By Seth Turner, SVS – Living Safe Clinician
When I first met Taylor, he had just started at an alternative education programme after being advised to leave high school. He felt on the outside of the school system, was highly anxious and struggled containing strong anger impulses. He was only 13, but felt much older than his years. Taylor comes from a supportive family household and they were at their wits end in knowing how to help their son.
Initially, I worked with Taylor weekly, over a period of four to five months. During that time, we worked on calming techniques and his emotional regulation. He was able to make sense of what he was doing and made changes over a short period of time.
Eighteen months later, Taylor experienced a drug-induced psychosis episode that resulted in bouts of high anxiety, severe paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. After struggling to make headway with mental health services, Taylor asked to re-engage with me.
I have continued to see Taylor over the last 18 months reducing our frequency to monthly check-ins. Over that time, Taylor has approached his anxiety with thoughtfulness and courage. He is now able to engage socially and is developing a growing confidence and sense of self. He no longer struggles with anger outbursts and catches himself 90 percent of the time so he can make better choices. Although he still struggles at times, he has developed a more positive mental perspective and can meet his experiences head on with more awareness and strength. He has held down employment for over a year and is engaged in hobbies and activities. Taylor can recognise his thoughts and feelings more readily, which helps him to make more informed choices about the direction of his life. It has been a delight to work with him.
Taylor is not alone. Anxiety and other mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent among youth. We are fortunate at SVS – Living Safe that we have the skills and flexibility to work with young people over an extended period of time because it allows for a more comprehensive approach that can establish more robust and long-lasting change.